End of roaming rip-off means families can save €240 on holiday
A FAMILY could save more than €240 on their summer holidays because of a new cap on rip-off mobile internet charges when abroad in the European Union.
The first ever EU-wide cap on data-roaming charges to consumers comes into force on Sunday, meaning mobile companies can't charge more than 70c per MB of data -- 86c after VAT.
The move ends the current free-for-all, which has seen many Irish holidaymakers charged a whopping €5 per MB to browse the internet, send emails or update their Facebook page while abroad.
Price comparisons compiled by the EU Commission show the massive savings that will result.
For example, a typical family of four spending a week in London would have previously racked up an exorbitant bill of €315 for using a smartphone to check a map once a day and spending 45 minutes each day on Facebook, as well as uploading two photos and sending two emails per day.
But the new lower costs mean that the cost will now plunge to €74 -- saving them a massive €241 on their week's holiday.
And while those are the EU average costs, the savings could be even greater for some consumers who have been paying even more up to now.
For example, O2 has been charging Irish customers €5.04 per MB of data in the EU, while Three charges €4 per MB in most countries. But as of Sunday the new price will be a fifth of that.
This was even though these companies benefited from an EU wholesale price cap, which meant they only had to pay other mobile networks a maximum of €0.50 per MB for providing this service abroad.
The EU Commission said consumers would save €10bn on roaming charges this year as a result of price caps that it has introduced, cutting prices by 75pc since 2007. These also apply to texts and voice calls.
"Price caps on data mean we have roaming for the smartphone generation," said the EU Commission's vice-president Neelie Kroes.
She added: "This ends the roaming rip-offs once and for all in the EU."
Frequent travellers, such as business people who make multiple trips in Europe each year, will save even more on the new roaming charges.
For example, the EU calculated that a UK businessman or woman making 10 short trips to France or Germany would have racked up a yearly data roaming bill of €1,260 in the past, but this will now plummet to €176, a saving of €1,084.
Charges will continue to fall as the EU plans to reduce prices further to a maximum of 20c per MB by July 2014.
Making calls and sending texts abroad will also become cheaper from this Sunday.
Calls will be capped at €0.29 per minute, down from the current maximum of €0.35, while the cost of sending a text while abroad will fall from 11c to 9c.